Defined Benefit 

Pension deficits remain stable in November

Pension deficits remain stable in November

The total deficit of all the defined benefit (DB) pension funds in the UK stood at £230bn at the end of November, unchanged from the previous month, figures from PwC showed.

PwC’s Skyval index, which comprises data from 5,600 UK DB schemes, showed pension fund assets at £1.8trn and liabilities of just below £1.6trn.

Steven Dicker, PwC’s chief actuary, said while the deficit of the UK pension schemes remained unchanged over November, "this masks a drop of some £20bn in both assets and liabilities, which has been driven predominantly by a rise in gilt yields over the month".

"The index is based on the most widely used approach by scheme actuaries for setting discount rates - gilt yields plus a margin - and these figures show the inherent volatility of this method from month to month."

The 'gilts plus' deficit method assumes that the expected return on assets can be derived as the sum of the risk-free rate of return (typically assumed to be the return on gilts), and the risk premium expected to be achieved as a reward for holding riskier assets.

An increase in deficits for some of UK DB pension schemes is expected in the next few months, as they will start to equalise contracted out benefits due to a recent court ruling.

FTSE 100 companies could see their scheme liabilities increase £12bn, according to analysis from JLT Employee Benefits.

FTAdviser reported in October that DB scheme members who contracted out are set to receive millions of pounds in back payments, after a landmark ruling of a case brought by the trustees of Lloyds Bank's DB schemes this summer.

Justice Morgan ruled that trustees must equalise benefits between women and men who have guaranteed minimum pensions as a result of contracted out benefits.

The case concerned a pension problem spanning almost three decades and could have widespread implications for hundreds of thousands of pensioners.